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How does the adjective antithetical differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of antithetical are contradictory, contrary, and opposite. While all these words mean "being so far apart as to be or seem irreconcilable," antithetical stresses clear and unequivocal diametrical opposition.

a law that is antithetical to the very idea of democracy

When can contradictory be used instead of antithetical?

While in some cases nearly identical to antithetical, contradictory applies to two things that completely negate each other so that if one is true or valid the other must be untrue or invalid.

made contradictory predictions about whether the market would rise or fall

When might contrary be a better fit than antithetical?

While the synonyms contrary and antithetical are close in meaning, contrary implies extreme divergence or diametrical opposition.

contrary assessments of the war situation

In what contexts can opposite take the place of antithetical?

The meanings of opposite and antithetical largely overlap; however, opposite applies to things in sharp contrast or in conflict.

opposite views on foreign aid

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Cite this Entry

“Antithetical.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/antithetical. Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

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